Entrepreneur Kim Becker felt called to do something big in her business.
As a licensed cosmetologist in Indiana, running her own salon wasn’t fulfilling enough. Every year she’d change up her salon, add new services and try to go bigger.
She loved making people feel beautiful—she knew that much.
Yet something was still missing.
When Becker finally told her husband Michael she wanted to give back by giving women with cancer free makeovers, he looked at her like she was crazy.
Neither one of them knew how to make it happen, but together they figured it out. Michael bought his wife books on grant writing and nonprofits, determined to help her make her dream come true.
In 2010, the nonprofit Hello Gorgeous! was founded to offer red carpet treatment for women battling cancer. Women are nominated to receive a head-to-toe makeover and are surprised in either an affiliate salon or mobile spa.
“I have the best job in the whole world,” said Becker of her nonprofit work. “I tell people that all the time.”
No matter where women receive the makeover, a red carpet is always rolled out before the recipient enters to cheers of “Hello Gorgeous!” from volunteer salon staff.
The mobile spa comes right to a cancer patient’s house and is fully staffed with salon professionals to give facials, manicures, pedicures and hair cutting services, including wig cutting.
At the end of the makeover, recipients also receive a new outfit to show off at a reveal party where their loved ones get to show their support.
The makeovers are a natural fit in an industry dedicated to making others feel good, Becker believes, especially when you get gentle, compassionate touch involved.
Massage therapists in particular can share their gifts by volunteering at a local cancer center or by giving a discounted rate to those going through already expensive chemo treatments.
By leading the way, others follow. It doesn’t have to be as big as starting a nonprofit, Becker said.
“Your employees want to be empowered,” said Becker. “They want to be in charge. You have to be the visionary. You have to be the leader.”
Give Back to Touch Lives
Now, with the passing of her husband in late 2017, Becker’s desire is to continue to honor his legacy. Giving back to the community is her full-time job.
With a goal to reach cancer patients in every city in the U.S., Becker trains affiliate salons to help expand the Hello Gorgeous! reach.
So far, she has 33 affiliate salons in 20 states.
Her ultimate goal? To gift makeovers to 500,000 women each year.
Each salon in the program agrees to make over one cancer patient per month for a full year. All the products used are brand new and given to the recipient at the end of the makeover.
Most importantly, the recipient is shown how to reproduce the look so she can do it herself.
“We’re leaving footprints in these communities so the salon is the face of Hello Gorgeous!,” Becker said.
Julene Franz, owner of FIX SalonSpa, has worked with Hello Gorgeous! as a salon affiliate for the last seven years. She also travels as an executive salon coach across the country to certify other salons in the Hello Gorgeous! method.
Franz will always remember the first “magical” makeover for a woman named Angie, who was a big fan of Hello Gorgeous!.
“In fact, after her makeover, she came to see our other Hello Gorgeous! women to encourage them,” said Franz. “She would show up with a little gift, a big hug and introduce herself and visit with the woman for a while. Angie loved her Hello Gorgeous! sweatshirt. She wore it everywhere.”
At Angie’s funeral, they hung the Hello Gorgeous! sweatshirt to honor her love for the organization, Franz said.
Even now, Angie’s husband comes into the salon as a regular guest.
“He is like family to us, as was Angie,” said Franz. “The relationships we have made through these three-hour makeovers have been lasting and so meaningful.”
Those endearing, special memories are ones that organically happen with giving back, Franz and Becker agreed.
Give Back for Professional and Personal Rewards
Even if it’s a small good deed, Becker encourages spa and massage professionals to give back in their communities. Social impact is as simple as placing a small Christmas tree in a spa lobby around the holidays and asking clients to bring in clean socks for a homeless shelter, she said.
“Just do something that’s good,” she said. “As a human being, we have to contribute. But there’s no reason you can’t get back from that contribution.”
Becker said she understands how the idea of adding another project onto an entrepreneur’s plate can feel overwhelming. Until four years ago, she still worked as a hairdresser while leading her nonprofit crusade.
When she did both, it could be a tough balancing act at times.
However, she said, “it was so fulfilling, it didn’t feel like work … as a licensed professional, we have the license to touch. It’s such an amazing gift, and we don’t give it away enough.”
Plus, it’s good for the soul as much as it is for public relations. Working as a salon affiliate, Franz feels the social impact every time she and her team finish a makeover.
“It is important to me to have a community impact like this in my business because I am not about being mediocre,” Franz said. “If I’m going to own a business, then I want it to be a business that really makes a difference to our everyday guests and to the women who need us the most, women with cancer.”
In the 30 years she’s been a cosmetologist, Franz never had a news outlet call to ask about how she did hair. It’s not that different or newsworthy.
But making someone who’s having a rough time feel good—that’s something worth writing about, she said.
The press will call when a business is making a community impact, Franz said.
“In my salon alone, I have had numerous opportunities for news media, newspaper stories, about my salon, and it is because of the impact my salon makes through Hello Gorgeous!,” she said.
“I can tell you that being a part of Hello Gorgeous! gives in a much bigger way than anyone would ever imagine. It’s a big deal, and I’m honored to be part of it,” Franz added.
Give Back to Create a Legacy
The journey of giving back hasn’t always been easy, but Becker said she has no plans to retire from doing good.
When Becker lost her husband, Michael, to a rare liver disease, she knew he would want her to continue with Hello Gorgeous! After all, he was the one who came up with the name.
Even on the worst of days when Michael was lying in a hospital bed and his phone would ring, he’d answer, “Hello Gorgeous!” with a smile on his face, she said.
That kind of energy and passion is what Becker hopes others will see when they meet her salon affiliates or visit her mobile spa buses.
She challenges professionals to ask themselves daily how they are making a difference in the world. Life is short, she attests, and there are too many people who would love another day to help others.
“In today’s day and age, what do you want to be known for?” she asked. “When you leave this earth, do you want to be known for [the] crazy fingernail polish you wore? Or do you want to be known for the impact that you have?”
About the Author:
Seraine Page is an award-winning journalist based out of Florida. She enjoys writing about health, wellness and travel. Her work has been featured online for sites like SANDBOXX, Redbubble, Teespring, DAYSPA Magazine and others. Page is a regular contributor to MASSAGE Magazine, and she recently wrote “Massage Therapy as an Alternative to Opioids?” and “At the Caring Place, Cancer Patients’ Fear, Anger and Anxiety are Soothed by Massage” for massagemag.com.